What are those beautiful white flowers growing around the trails of Southern California?
If you’ve been hiking in the foothills, chaparrals, or even just around Griffith Park this spring, you’ve probably noted these femme fatale white blooms growing out in the open inviting curiosity and question. Datura stramonium – aka Jimson weed, the Devil’s Trumpet, thorn apple, or moon flower – has a fascinating history, earning an intertwined history and reputation as both a toxic killer and a hallucinogenic medicinal of powerful healing abilities: the priests of Apollo at Delphi reputedly used it to assist them in seeking their otherworldly prophecies, the Peruvians concocted a delirium-indducing beverage from the plant’s seeds, and the Arabs of Central Africa dried the leaves, flowers, and roots to smoke it for its narcotic effects. Locally, California native tribes would ingest the black seeds to purchase a roundtrip ticket into the spirit world, probably resulting in vision quests not unlike this (One Who Jumps With Modine has sadly faded from tribal oral history). Read More
As anyone who hikes regularly here in Southern California and elsewhere knows: Koreans love to hike. Middle-aged Koreans are often seen offloading from giant chartered busses in multitudes normally reserved for Sunday morning church services, donning satellite dish-sized visors and wearing Burberry/Dooney & Bourke pattern lined “banchan” vests (a nickname for the vests equipped with a multitude of little pockets), geared out for all-day hikes in the nearby Angeles Forest mountains. Many of hikers have discovered these older folks can keep a humbling pace, especially while climbing up to higher destination peaks, with the Korean genetic propensity for a low center of gravity (aka, short and squat), a hearty constitution, and their stubborn pugnacious attitudes making them the hiker-poled equivalent of a Jeep Rubicon. Read More
“Want to be a writer? A poet? A painter? Want to indulge in any of the fine arts? If so, go to Red Rock canyon.” – Bakersfield Californian/1920
Motivated by the previous adventure out to Saddleback Butte State Park – alongside the arrival of a new 27mm F2.8 lens for the Fujifilm X-E2 – I mapped out a course further north to Red Rock Canyon State Park for a solo expedition. Although I knew the wild flowers would be less spectacular than Saddleback Butte’s offerings, the photos I previewed of the park’s iron oxide tinted 300-feet sandstone-curtained cliffs was enough for me to fill the TDI’s tank, load up the backpack, and hit the road. Read More
I have Zach Behrens of KCET to thank for the heads up about the floral carpet bombing of yellow coreopsis blooming at Saddleback Butte State Park right now. It’s as if a giant can of yellow paint was thrown across the desert floor, the walk across the Joshua Tree dotted park an electrifying and surreal stimulation of the retina. Even on a perfect Saturday morning like today, the park was only visited by a handful of visitors…and I noticed even fewer hikers making their way up from Little Butte Trail up to 3,651 feet high Saddleback Butte Peak, where the eventual vantage point rewards you for the steep and sandy incline with a 360 degree view of the Antelope Valley, including a few snow capped mountains in the distance. Read More
I found myself face to face with the mantra stuck staring back at me from the bumper of a worn down pickup truck at a stoplight recently. I had seen the progressive slogan no less than a thousand times (no surprise, considering Silver Lake’s liberal+political populace). But it was only while stuck for a small eternity at a nearby intersection I realized the applicable philosophy on much more grounded terms, relatable in a way where the message clarified like butter heated on a stove. In other words, the idea of dissecting a larger imperative into actionable smaller decisions, seemed at the heart of what I was attempting as a personal trainer.
Since taking on the responsibility of personal training and helping friends transition from a state of “wanting” into the practice of “doing”, I’ve often been asked numerous variations of “…but how do you continue to ____?” These questions reflect a common dissociation between a person’s hopeful motivating idea(l) and the actual daily habit-testing practices. Impatience and inconsistency, the twin-headed combatant of accomplishment, are tied to an overemphasis on the first half of “think globally”.
The Red Box to Valley Forge Camp trail is just a five mile up and back hike (I pushed a little further to look for new fruiting oyster mushrooms to no avail), but I was able to spend the whole of my day marveling at all the details, textures, and colors underfoot, along the river, and overhead amongst the trees with only brief interludes with other passing hikers. Otherwise, I was left to observe the comings and goings of industrious wood ants, listen to the concerned chatter of grey tailed squirrels as they suspiciously monitored my activities, trace the paper marbled patterns of lichen decorating rocks with my fingers, and even peer inside a partially locked mountain cabin. It was a day of sensory overload, yet I returned back to the trailhead relaxed and satisfied, such is the therapy of exploring a fine trail after the rain.
In the last few months, in addition to upgrading and updating this site, I’ve been busily stitching together a patchwork of opportunities, which combined are starting to form the proverbial professional outfit I plan to wear in 2014 and beyond. (Everyone knows I actually work in t-shirts and shorts so I can easily “drop 10″ throughout the day.) All are positions/jobs that I’m extremely excited about embarking upon — several of which I’ve already begun under the radar but can’t quite comfortably announce online because I want them finalized before trumpeting proudly.
One that I can share is I am now officially a contributor to the creative inspiration site Holiday Matinee (thanks to Kiran and Dave for the invitation to contribute). I am also in the process of redesigning the website for my friends Alexandra and Greg of ModOp Design here in Los Angeles.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, I’ve also begun offering personal training to a small group of friends who approached me with two goals in mind: 1) a healthier and fitter version of themselves for 2014, and 2) more specifically, stronger — and larger — glutes. My year-long transformation from Blogger Butt-afflicted schlep to a healthier version of myself had connected and resonated with friends who watched the gradual but steady transformation. Nothing convinces people of the validity of a lifestyle change as much as doing it yourself…and consistently.
Last week I met four of my lovely friends out at the Silver Lake Meadow, switching them from their usual cardio- or gym-based routines. Over the course of an hour I introduced them to a challenging workout with the goal of activating groups of muscles working together and supporting the glutes. Read More
Like running itself, this short film by Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley filmed in and along London Park begins as a trivial activity, but increases pace to reveal profound moments of truth with each step taken. I was struck by the candor of each runner, each of the runners’ cadence an unique percussive accompaniment to the stories they shared with complete strangers. Note the small pauses interjected between breath and words…like in design, the negative space reveals what we may not be able to convey verbally, yet so clearly express.
“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.” ― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
We all run for a variety of reasons, but perhaps mostly as a reminder to ourselves and the world of the importance of propelling ourselves forward each moment. Each step is a micro and macro victory against entropy, each run an opportunity to answer questions we’re too scared to ask/answer as a body at rest.
At the same time, sometimes we run just because we have to get from Point A to Point B…and that can be motivation enough.
These days I find myself fielding two types of question quite regularly: 1. how to organize and create more beautiful homes, and 2. how to become physically fit. The two goals are not unlike one another, each requiring knowledge and commitment for long term results.
After many discussions about both home organization and personal fitness, I suspect for the most part people overemphasize the “how” while disregarding the “why”. I think because tackling the “how” is an immediate actionable inquiry, while researching “why” requires a frank and honest self evaluation of self, one is stressed while the other is glossed over. But this is a mistake which leads to a cycle of “cleansing” or “decluttering”, whether in regard to keeping home or staying healthy.
About a year ago I began asking myself a series of questions focusing upon “why”:
Why was I tired on a daily basis, both physically and mentally? Why did my back hurt so often? Why had I allowed myself to reach an all-time heaviest weight (a sobering 183 lbs of back aching blogger behind)? Why was I not pursuing a life I knew would make me happier, and in turn healthier? Why were previous attempts to become healthier failing to stick beyond a few weeks or month?